What’s New & Great in New York City
Even in a place that evolves as quickly as New York City, the pace of change lately has been impressive. Entire neighborhoods are virtually unrecognizable from just a few years ago, especially in Brooklyn, which continues to stake its claim as the world’s coolest borough. Bars, restaurants, shops, and guys with ironic facial hair all continue to converge in neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bed-Stuy. And not to be outdone, Manhattan is redefining itself as the new Brooklyn—and making a pretty compelling case. Formerly snoozy no-go zones, like Midtown, now have cool boutique hotels and great restaurants that cater more to hipsters than to hedge fund managers. And while we love discovering all these recent additions, there’s also something to be said for reconnecting with places we haven’t been to in a while—a few of which we’ve included here. Welcome to the new New York.
Freehand New York23 Lexington Ave., Flatiron | 212.475.1920
We were this close to booking the first flight to NYC when we heard that Freehand was opening a new Roman and Williams–designed property. The first Freehand location in Manhattan (after Miami, Chicago, and LA) is in the Flatiron district, right on the border of Gramercy. (It’s a couple of subway stops south of Grand Central, if you’re coming in by train.) In Freehand’s signature style, the rooms vary from hostel-style bunkbeds to corner kings. Commissioned artwork from nearby Bard College students and alumni is displayed throughout, and there’s an overall collegiate feel to the hotel. The George Washington Bar on the mezzanine level is decked out in leather and wood like a handsome old library. There’s an old-school game room next door and another expansive lounge space full of potted plants where you can do work and drink cocktails simultaneously (if you can?). And the all-day restaurant, Studio, is like a classic New York diner, if it won the lottery, redecorated, and hired world-class chefs to do the cooking. We plan to try Simon & the Whale, the street-level restaurant by chef Matt Griffin, next time and come back for Freehand’s rooftop opening, too.
The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel123 Nassau St., Financial District | 212.233.2300
New hot spots seem to open in Lower Manhattan every week, and the Beekman (a block from City Hall and a few minutes’ walk from Battery Park), which debuted in the summer of 2016, was one of the biggest. Designed by Martin Brudnizki—whose latest work includes London’s exclusive club Annabel’s and restaurant the Ivy—the redbrick building dates back to the 1880s. It feels like something from a British period film—with oriental rugs over terra-cotta-tiled floors, tasseled velvet club chairs, wrought-iron balustrades, and dark, wood-paneled walls. Augustine, the hotel’s restaurant, is by Keith McNally (Balthazar, the Odeon, Pastis for those who remember) and is a destination in its own right, serving classic, expertly made French brasserie dishes, like cheese soufflés and moules frites.
The James NoMad22 E 29th St., Flatiron | 212.532.4100
Just over a year old, the James’s second location in the city (the first opened in SoHo in 2010) is a Beaux Arts building from 1904. It’s got a hip, modern vibe, which is a great juxtaposition in such an historic building. Rooms are bright and cheerful (if a bit on the small side—this is New York, after all) and have a residential feel thanks to little touches like built-in wooden nightstands, Art Deco–style minibars, and works from local artists on the walls. It’s also home to Scarpetta, a popular high-end Italian restaurant that moved from its Meatpacking location to the hotel last year. The central location—in a rapidly changing, ever-cooler neighborhood—is a big bonus: NoMad is convenient to most parts of the city.
Made Hotel44 West 29th St., Flatiron | 212.213.4429
Tucked away on an unassuming side street in the Flatiron district, Made is right in the thick of Manhattan’s gorgeous sprawl, showcased beautifully via floor-to-ceiling windows in all 108 rooms. Inside, exposed bronze-shelving with a sleek, industrial-ish vibe plays off the beds’ colorful, hand-woven headboards; the bathrooms have hand-painted Japanese tiles and deep limestone sinks. Good Behavior, the hot-house rooftop bar, is filled with plants, many hanging whimsically from the ceiling. Sipping on a Toki Toddy (Japanese whisky mixed with turmeric tea and pressed ginger) and lounging on one of the sofas (indoors or outdoors, depending on the weather) surrounded by the hazy glow of towering buildings is as New York as it gets: the view is epic. Paper, the coffee bar in the lobby serves dynamite coffee, lattes, and tea, pastries, and come dusk, excellent cocktails; the Lobby Bar specializes in small plates, and Ferris is the hotel’s sleek, subterranean delight of a restaurant.
The Whitby Hotel18 West 56th Street., Midtown | 212.586.5656
In the past few years, Midtown has undergone a subtle evolution from the land of corporate offices and tourists to a neighborhood New Yorkers actually want to hang out in. It’s all thanks to a smattering of stylish new cafés, restaurants, and hotels. The Whitby, which opened last spring, has been a big part of the revival. The property is part of British-based Firmdale Hotels (the brand’s downtown Crosby Street Hotel is a fashion-world favorite) and displays founder and designer Kit Kemp’s signature aesthetic—bright, boldly patterned fabrics; floor-to-ceiling windows; colorful floral headboards and wallpaper; and tasteful, contemporary artwork everywhere. Fittingly for a hotel with roots in the UK, afternoon tea is a major draw, and this one offers a selection of gluten- and dairy-free options.
The Williamsburg Hotel96 Wythe Ave., Williamsburg | 718.362.8100
One of Williamsburg’s newer hotels, dryly named the Williamsburg is in the same few-block radius as the Wythe, McCarren, and William Vale. The rooms all have floor-to-ceiling windows—the best of which come with private balconies and views of the Manhattan skyline. The bedrooms are mostly done in reclaimed oak, cool brown tones, and brass furnishings, with little pops of color, like a mustard throw blanket or a plush teal couch. The lobby restaurant and bar have plenty of space for laptops during the day and then stay busy well into the night. There is a rooftop bar coming, too.